The failure of the State government in addressing the sand problem has been forcing the people to attempt suicides, even after almost one and a half year.
Balapanur village in Panyam Mandal, Kurnool district witnessed a high drama as the YCP leader Parameswara Reddy climbed an electricity tower in the village on Wednesday and threatened to commit suicide. For the past two months, Mr. Reddy said that he had been trying to procure sand for the construction of his brother’s house. Despite the presence of a dumping yard in Panyam, he was unable to procure the sand as his request for online booking couldn’t be completed due to server issues. The sand scarcity also halted the development works in the village.
Mr. Reddy mentioned that he campaigned for YCP during the 2019 Assembly elections and made people vote for the party and now he is unable to face them. He also complained to the local MLA but to no avail. He said that at least his death would serve as a much-needed reminder to the current government.
However, sand scarcity and suicides related to it aren’t uncommon in the current government. After coming to power, the YCP government scrapped the erstwhile ‘Free Sand Policy’ and introduced a new policy. Even after introducing the new sand policy, the construction sector suffered due to the artificial scarcity of sand. The prices were hiked in the present policy introduced by Chief Minister Jagan Reddy, because of which 40 lakh building workers became jobless in Andhra Pradesh.
Opposition leaders termed it as man – made calamity and demanded the government to pay compensation to the affected people. Even after the policy was launched in September 2019, three workers from Tenali, Guntur and Mangalgiri committed suicide towards the end of October 2019. Several other suicide cases were left unreported as the cases were not being linked to the slump in real estate construction in the State.
After receiving a lot of criticism, the State government constituted a cabinet sub – committee to review the sand policy in the state and to study the sand policies of the other states. Based on the recommendations of the sub – committee, the sand reaches in the state have been categorized into three groups. One group consists of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari, the other group consists of West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam and the last group include Nellore, Anantapur, Kadapa, Chittoor and Kurnool.
The state government is planning to invite private contractors by bringing changes into the newly introduced Sand Policy. It may be worth mentioning here that, Panchayati Raj Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy mentioned that the contract will be given to the agencies which quote the lowest bid. It is yet to be seen if the amendments made to the new sand policy would bring the desired changes.